Do You Have to Sign the Back of a Check to Deposit It?

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  • Post last modified:July 6, 2021

An endorsement is necessary to cash or deposit a check. Do you need to sign the back of a check to deposit it? 

You need to sign the back of a check before depositing it. In some cases, you might get away by not signing the back, as long as your name appears in front as the payee. However, the bank might return the check to the issuer, resulting in penalties and delays. To avoid such, the best practice is for the recipient always to sign the back of the check. 

Read on to learn more about signing the back of the check and other things to know about its endorsement. 

Do You Have to Sign the Back of a Check to Deposit It? 

do you have to sign the back of a check to deposit it

Once you receive a check, you must endorse it to deposit or cash it out. As a part of the endorsement, you will need to sign the back of the check. Aside from your signature, you can also add special instructions for security purposes and improve bank processing efficiency. 

On the other hand, if you are issuing the check, you do not have to sign the back or the endorsement area. The only place where your signature is a must is in front. Nonetheless, you can write specific instructions at the back of the check, such as holding the deposit until the date that you identify. 

If you are not yet ready to use the check, do not sign it as a precautionary measure. By leaving it unsigned, you minimize the risk that someone will use it once you lose the check.

Who Signs the Back of the Check? 

The person who receives the check is the one who should sign it. However, there are certain instances when you might be confused about who the signatory will be. For instance, if the check is payable to several people, the check is written dictates who should sign. If there is “and’ between the names, then both parties should sign. 

Meanwhile, if the check was issued to a business, the business owner is the signatory. The bank will also accept signatures from other people, as long as they are authorized, company representatives.

For FBO or “for the benefit of” checks, the endorsements can come from the one issuing the check and the person or the institution that will benefit from it. For instance, if you are writing a check for the benefit of your mom in an assisted living facility, depositing the check can require signatures for you and the representative of the facility. 

What Is On the Back of a Check?

As you sign the back of a check, you will see that it has different parts. These sections will differ depending on the bank or issuer. Often, the back has three main sections, which include the following:

1. Endorsement Area 

This is where the recipient endorses the check before bringing it to a bank. It is a small rectangular area at the top of the check with the words “Endorse Here.” The endorsement often comes in the form of a signature. 

However, to prevent someone from cashing or depositing the check without your permission, it is useful to add some restrictions. You can write “for deposit only,” which means that it is only for a deposit on account of the signatory. This will prevent theft or misuse of the check. 

2. Security Screen

It is the biggest part of the check. As the consumer, you do not need to write anything on this portion. It is only for the bank or financial institution. Looking closely at this section, you will find security features, such as the words “Original Document.” This ink or pattern makes it difficult to commit fraud, such as photocopying the check. 

3. Security Box 

This is what you will find in the lowest portion of the check. It often contains tips about keeping the check secure and warnings to anyone who will use the check illegally. You might also find the Check Payment Systems Association Padlock icon. It indicates that the check has the necessary safety features. 

Different Ways to Endorse a Check 

The specific procedure for endorsing a check depends on the bank’s requirements and whatever you intend to do with the money. After the endorsement, you can cash the check and deposit it in your bank account. Here are the different ways you can endorse a check:

1. Blank Endorsement 

It is the easiest but also the riskiest method of check endorsement. To do this, sign the back of the check, and it is already good. However, you should do this only if you are ready to cash or deposit it after signing. For instance, do it only when you are already at the bank lobby or before depositing it online. 

2. Restrictive Endorsement 

For a secure way of endorsing a check, it is best to include restrictions. It makes sure that the check will go only to the bank account that you specify. The easiest way to do this is to write “For Deposit Only to Account Number XXX.” This way, thieves cannot deposit the check to any other account. 

3. Full Endorsement 

This is a type of third-party check. It means that you can give the check to another person. In turn, that person will be the one to endorse the check before the deposit. You will need to write “Pay to the Order Of,” followed by the name of the person to whom you will be giving the check. 

Again, do I need to sign the back of a check before depositing at my bank? Some banks allow checks to be cashed by someone other than the person named on the front of the check if it is counter-signed. You can then endorse the back of the cheque and deposit it into your account. This is called counter-signing a cheque.

Tips for Depositing Checks

do you have to sign the back of a check

Aside from proper endorsement with a signature on the back, here are other things to do when depositing a check. These will help make the process seamless and secure:

1. Check All the Details

Make sure that they are correct. From the front to the back, see that you have everything that the bank needs for verification and processing. 

2. Fill out the Deposit Slip

Fill out the deposit slip if you are going to process the check in your bank physically. The information on the slip must match the details on your check. 

3. Take a Clear Picture

If you are depositing the check through a mobile app, take a clear picture. The shot should cover all parts of the check. It must have a plain, clean, and black or neutral background. 

4. Provide a Valid Identification

Provide a valid identification, specifically if you will deposit or cash the check in person. Check the IDs that your bank will allow, and make sure you have one of them. 

5. Avoid Any Alteration on the Check

Avoid any alteration on the check. This can delay the processing, as the bank may suspect that it is a case of fraud. If there are many errors, get a new check instead of trying to fix the mistakes. 

6. Take Care of Your Check

Take care of your check. Avoid crumpling or tearing the check before you deposit it. Any serious damage might make it invalid depending on the bank policies. 

7. Use a Permanent Pen

Use a permanent pen when writing or endorsing a check. This way, no one can erase the details easily, making it less prone to fraud. 

Do You Have to Sign a Check Before Depositing? FAQs

do I need to sign the back of a check before depositing it

Before we end this article, we’ll answer some questions you might have:

Is It Necessary to Sign the Back of a Check?

If you are issuing a check, then you do not need to sign at the back. Your signature is necessary only in the front. 

On the other hand, if you are the recipient, you should sign the back for endorsement. This will prevent any problem, such as returning the check to the issuer and paying the penalty. It is also important for security reasons.

Can I Sign a Check for Someone Else?

Yes, you can sign a check for someone else. Make sure to do it right to avoid problems with the bank. This is known as a full endorsement, as earlier talked about. You need to write “Pay to the order of,” followed by the name of the person who will receive the check. You also need to sign it. 

However, take note that third-party checks are not always acceptable. Some banks might refuse the check since it can be a fraud risk. It is best to talk to your bank’s representative before making a third-party endorsement to avoid any headache. 

Why Do You Need to Endorse a Check?

A check endorsement is an authorization for payment collection to the bank. After the endorsement, the bank can now legally act on your behalf and do whatever is necessary with the check. Otherwise, there is no go signal for the bank. 

If you do not endorse the check, the bank will refuse to deposit or cash its amount. Worse, it can return to the issuer, and the bank will charge a fine. 

Nonetheless, there are some situations wherein you do not need to endorse the check, especially if it is a small amount. The specific rules will vary from one bank to another. To avoid any problem, endorse the check. 

How Do You Endorse a Check for a Mobile Deposit?

With today’s innovations, depositing a check is possible even online. You do not need to drive and queue at the bank. All you need is a mobile phone and a banking app to deposit a check. To ensure a smooth process, however, follow the right procedure:

  • Make sure that the information matches. The name of the payee as shown in front should match the signature on the endorsement section. When signing, keep it within the line. 
  • Be familiar with the policies of your bank. This can be different from one financial institution to another.
  • In the endorsement section, affix your signature and print the account number and account name. You must write “For Mobile Deposit Only” to indicate a restriction. 
  • Follow the instructions on the app. In most cases, you will need to upload a photo of the front and back of the check. Wait until the bank processes your deposit. Check your account if it has pushed through. 

What Should I Write on the Back of the Check to Deposit It?

This depends on the requirements of your bank. Most of the time, you will only need a signature. Nonetheless, you might also need to affix certain clauses to indicate restrictions. More so, some will also require an account name, account number, and even contact details. 

Where Should I Endorse a Check When There Are No Lines?

Some checks may not have the X mark and lines where you will sign for endorsement. If it is blank, sign on the upper part of the back of the check. Construct an invisible rectangle on the top portion where you will sign. 

Will Banks Verify Signatures on Checks?

As a part of their security measures, banks will verify check signatures. Most financial institutions will have a signature card on your file. It contains signature specimens, which they will compare with the signature on the check. 

Can I Write Anywhere on the Back of the Check?

Write your endorsement only on the top part of the check. Do not write anything on other portions, especially the security screen. Otherwise, it might be more difficult for the bank to verify the check. 

Conclusion – Do You Need to Sign the Back of a Check to Deposit It?

It is best to sign the back of the check as an endorsement before the deposit. Only the recipient signs this part. Meanwhile, the issuer will sign only in front. The signature at the back can also come with specific instructions to restrict the use of the check and prevent fraud. 

Aside from the endorsement area at the back of the check, you will see two more sections. The biggest is the center portion, which is the security screen. It contains features to prevent thieves from copying the check. The lowest part, on the other hand, is the security box. It has warnings and tips about the security of the check.